Etat Libre d’Orange Fils de Dieu : Perfume Review


Star rating: 5 stars–outstanding/potential classic, 4 stars–very good, 3 stars–adequate, 2 stars–disappointing, 1 star–poor.

He brings the sunshine. That’s how Etat Libre d’Orange describes its latest fragrance Fils de Dieu, du Riz et des Agrumes. “Son of God, rice and citrus” was brought into this world by perfumer Ralf Schwieger, who took the idea of a classical oriental and made it new and memorable. What drew me to Fils de Dieu from the first inhale was how well it played on the contrasts: the effervescence of citrus cologne and the plush richness of vanilla, the spring-like brightness of green leaves and the sultry darkness of musk, the clarity and the complexity.

The first hint of an interesting twist appears right from the top note where the bergamot and lime suggest a tart citrus, while an animalic note promises something far naughtier. Then the illusion of sweet spices and crushed rose petals gives way to vanilla and amber, and suddenly I realize that Fils de Dieu is a modern twist on Guerlain Shalimar. It has the same juxtaposition of crisp citrus and creamy vanilla, with a lavish dose of castoreum and musk.

However, the surprises do not end here. As Fils de Dieu unfolds, it goes from fresh to sultry and then to delicious—the savory gourmand accord of milky rice notes and coriander leaves makes my mouth water.  Fils de Dieu works so well in spite of its unusual layers because of its perfect harmony. Every accord is seamlessly linked with another like a perfectly choreographed dance. Discovering little touches that give Fils de Dieu its distinctive character is one of the reasons I fell in love with it.

Another is that the fragrance diffuses beautifully, and its trail—warm, soft and radiant—feels very inviting. I had left a blotter saturated with perfume in my living room, only to find the perfume filling the entire space with its generous presence. Lacking the typical heft of a vanilla rich composition, Fils de Dieu is nevertheless very tenacious. For all of its twists and surprises, it is charming and lighthearted. The end result is as disarming as a smile. In fact, every time I wear Fils de Dieu, I cannot help smiling; it is an instant mood lifter.

Etat Libre d’Orange Fils de Dieu includes notes of ginger, cardamom, coriander leaves, lime, shiso, bergamot, coconut, rice note, jasmine, cinnamon, rose, tonka bean, vetiver, musk, amber, leather, and castoreum. Available from Henri Bendels and online from Luckyscent.

Sample: my own acquisition

Photography  © Bois de Jasmin



  • Ines: Ok, I’m convinced I need it. 🙂

    (You had me with modern Shalimar) 😉 March 19, 2012 at 9:14am Reply

  • Dane: I’ve been a big ELdO from the beginning, but I can’t deny the fact that although impressive compositions, I tend to not wear any of them very often. They have a presence that follows the saying “when the perfume wears you, rather than you wear the perfume”. How do you feel this one plays into that aspect? From your description, I can’t help but be tempted! March 19, 2012 at 10:10am Reply

  • Victoria: Imagine if Shalimar was set in Japan or Thailand, rather than India, and that’s Fils de Dieu! March 19, 2012 at 11:27am Reply

  • Victoria: Dane, Fils de Dieu is very easy to wear, and it doesn’t feel like it wears you, unlike some other ELdO fragrances. Like you, I love many compositions and admire them for their originality, but in this case, I also just love wearing the scent. It makes me feel very good. This sounds so simple, but in reality, instant mood lifters like this are hard to find. March 19, 2012 at 11:30am Reply

  • dee: I’m with Ines; this sounds like something I need too 😉 March 19, 2012 at 12:17pm Reply

  • Victoria: I hope that you will review it, D! March 19, 2012 at 12:49pm Reply

  • Emily: You’ve darn near sold me on this, Victoria — I love classic orientals, but sometimes they start to feel a bit monotonous. Sounds like ELdO has found a fascinating variation on that theme. Might this one be a little easier to wear in warm weather than most other orientals? March 19, 2012 at 12:59pm Reply

  • Victoria: I think so. Fils de Dieu has enough citrus to be a cologne, but the warm backdrop of rice and amber makes it more interesting. It is neither cloying nor heavy. A very nicely done perfume. March 19, 2012 at 1:11pm Reply

  • Elisa: I don’t actually love the Shalimar genre (someday I’ll learn to love that combination of bergamot and vanilla but so far I don’t), but I will smell this for the rice note alone. I *love* the smell of cooking rice. Kenzo Amour is supposed to have a rice note but it’s a bit too subtle for me. March 19, 2012 at 1:20pm Reply

  • Victoria: Have you smelled Ormonde Jayne Champaca? Another fragrance  with a great rice note is True Star by 
    Tommy Hilfiger (for Beyonce.) It is too sweet for me, but I still enjoy how the perfumer created a rice pudding effect. March 19, 2012 at 1:25pm Reply

  • minette: wow… months with nary a craving in sight… and pow… a must-try! sounds perfect for me! thanks for the wake-up call! March 19, 2012 at 2:45pm Reply

  • Victoria: I like Etat Libre d'Orange line in general, but some of their latest fragrances have been particularly good–Like This is another one I enjoy very much. March 19, 2012 at 2:56pm Reply

  • carmencanada: A few mods of this fragrance were on the ELO boutique in Paris during the development, and from the start I found it very distinctive too. What’s interesting is that though the notes read like a recipe, the end result is not an actual gourmand — it’s much more delicate than that. I find it one of the most interesting releases so far this year. March 19, 2012 at 3:23pm Reply

  • Victoria: I agree with you, D. Reading the list one imagines a feast, but there is just a teasing hint, an abstract gourmand sensation. It is edible in the same way as Shalimar with all of its vanilla might seem as gourmand. In other words, not very much! March 19, 2012 at 3:27pm Reply

  • Elisa: I think I have a little sample vial of Champaca somewhere. I will dig it out. Thanks for the recommendation! March 19, 2012 at 4:55pm Reply

  • Chris: ELdO is a wonderful brand. It’s just amazing how they continue to produce so many humourous, challenging and unique fragrances at an affordable price.Fils de Dieu must go down as the greatest fragrance ever that was inspired by steamed rice and a phillipine massage parlour. March 19, 2012 at 5:19pm Reply

  • Victoria: You’re welcome! I love rice notes. The smell of basmati cooking on the stove makes me hungry, even if I’ve just eaten. March 19, 2012 at 5:58pm Reply

  • Victoria: Affordable prices is very true. It’s refreshing to find a niche brand priced so competitively. March 19, 2012 at 5:58pm Reply

  • Kathleen: My sample of this shipped today from luckeyscent. I’m so looking forward to trying it. Oddly I’ve been craving Thai food more lately. I think it’s a Spring thing. March 19, 2012 at 9:25pm Reply

  • Victoria: I’ve been craving fresh and vibrant flavors too lately. So, yesterday I’ve cooked a South Indian meal–lots of green herbs and lemony notes–for the first time in months.

    Looking forward to your take on Fils de Dieu. March 19, 2012 at 11:20pm Reply

  • jtd: Tried this recently and found it compelling and appealing. I couldn’t quite understand it, though. I suppose I couldn’t sort it into a box. Your Shalimar analogy does that without diminishing either. Thank you! Now I can stop spinning my head around. I did find a common thread to Etat’s own Putain des Palaces. Something about the way the rice note is both matte and effusive in that make-up sort of way. March 20, 2012 at 8:56am Reply

  • Amer: Do you think it can be worn as a unisex fragrance? March 20, 2012 at 9:11am Reply

  • Austenfan: My first full bottle of an ELdO scent arrived today. The wonderful Rien. I have samples of all their scents now, except of course of this one. I will have to try it. It is a good line and so affordable.
    Thanks for the review, and thank you even more for giving this line the thumbs up; else I might never have tried their fragrances. March 20, 2012 at 9:28am Reply

  • Barney A. Bishop: I always find cumin and coriander interesting in fragrances. This review is really making me curious. I just might have to weather the wave of women at Bendels and get a sample. March 20, 2012 at 10:24am Reply

  • Victoria: I’m so glad to hear this! I love Rien, and I think that it is one of the most interesting fragrances in the line. Plus, as we mentioned above, the price for these fragrances is very competitive. These days when the prices for niche are skyrocketing, it is a discovery in itself. March 20, 2012 at 10:46am Reply

  • Victoria: Barney, you have my support as you do that! 🙂 My issue with Bendels is not the crowds but the overly pushy sales people. The other day at least 4 people started talking to me at once, which was overwhelming. I narrowly escaped. March 20, 2012 at 10:50am Reply

  • Victoria: Yes, easily! It isn’t overly sweet or vanilla heavy. March 20, 2012 at 10:50am Reply

  • Victoria: Mmmm, I like that makeup effect in Putain des Palaces. You’ve reminded me that I haven’t worn it in ages. Just dug out my sample to wear later in the day. March 20, 2012 at 10:51am Reply

  • alyssa: Barney, if you can get a sample out of Bendels then you are doing better than I’ve ever been able to do! I’ve never had your problem with pushy salespeople, though, V. They ignore me. Happily so. March 20, 2012 at 1:41pm Reply

  • alyssa: V. this sounds absolutely wonderful! I love the basmati rice note in Champaca and the rest of what you’ve described sounds right up my alley, too. I am relieved that they gave up the original name (“Filipino Houseboy” Oy.) so that I can actually purchase a bottle if I fall in love with it. It would like nice next to my Jasmine et Cigarette… March 20, 2012 at 1:46pm Reply

  • Victoria: I've had a great customer service at the fragrance counter so far. Sometimes I'm also ignored, which is ok by me. It is the makeup department that I try to avoid.   March 20, 2012 at 1:47pm Reply

  • Victoria: I'm glad that the voice of reason woke up and the name got chucked. It would be a disservice to this perfume. The new name is perfect–there is something gilded and tender about it. The reason I decided to use the photo is because Fils de Dieu made me think of all of those smells–rice, jasmine, marigolds.  March 20, 2012 at 1:51pm Reply

  • Grusheczka: Years ago there was this fragrance called Annam by Tan Giudicelli which combined a prominent rice note with jasmine, lily, woods, vanilla, and a touch of tuberose. The effect was gently spiced milky rice pudding without any heaviness; it was just sweet enough but not overpowering. I adored it! I’m hoping this will somehow fill that void. Although I love OJ’s Champaca, it doesn’t quite feel like a substitute, but a different thing altogether. By the way, I love one of your earlier comments that this is like Shalimar done a la Tokyo or Thailand instead of India – that’s extremely evocative and helpful to me. Thanks for this review, I’ve been wondering about this and Bijou Romantique! March 20, 2012 at 9:07pm Reply

  • Victoria: Thank you for reminding me of Annam! It’s beautiful and very different from Champaca–I completely agree.
    Bijou Romantique is soft and caressing, very different in character. I still need to wear it properly, but my first impression is a good one. March 20, 2012 at 9:44pm Reply

  • Civava: I’m very interested to try this. Modern Shalimar njami and a mood lifter….I need that just now. March 21, 2012 at 2:57pm Reply

  • Victoria: The seasonal transitions are always very hard on me, and I like to keep a few "make me smile" things around. My little scented amulets, so to speak.

    And yes, like you, I'm a huge Shalimar fan, and I like finding new variations on the theme. March 21, 2012 at 5:44pm Reply

  • Sandra: I smelled Fils de Dieu and Bijou Romantique and those two fragrances are completely different. IMO, Bijou Romantique is closer to Shalimar than Fils de Dieu. This last one doesn’t contain vanilla, a very important note in Shalimar. Fils de Dieu is lighter, and reminds me a very innocent even though complex smell. April 16, 2012 at 11:07am Reply

    • Victoria: Vanilla is not listed among the notes in Fils de Dieu, but it is there. I agree with you that there is something innocent about this fragrance. Complex and innocent, a very compelling combination. April 16, 2012 at 11:14am Reply

  • red: It came off familiarly like Johnson’s baby powder on me, which is what they use at massage parlours in the Philippines. June 6, 2012 at 10:40pm Reply

  • Austenfan: Well I fell for this one on my recent trip to Paris. It’s such a wonderful and interesting scent and so agreeable,with lovely delicate sillage.
    I got bottle of it and so far have no regrets.
    (I also got a bell jar of La Myrrhe!) July 5, 2012 at 7:02am Reply

    • Victoria: Great choices! I know that you will enjoy them for a long time. La Myrrhe is so beautiful, and Fils de Dieu is such an elegant and comforting scent.
      Bijou Romantique is also very good, and I’ve been seriously tempted by it. July 5, 2012 at 9:34am Reply

  • Julie Demelo: Hi Victoria-
    Such a nice review! I love the price point of these perfumes.
    I have a few other scents from this line… Bijou Romantique, Remarkable People & Putain Des Palaces.:) I enjoy all of them. August 30, 2018 at 1:46am Reply

  • Sophie: I had a dab-on sample of this and loved it – most of all, the absolutely FLUFFY basmati rice coated in fragrant, spiced oil. I recently ordered a bottle, and now all I’m getting is Shalimar… which I’m sure I’ll grow into with time, but it’s just not what I’ve been craving. Checking reviews online, it seems that it’s not just me who sees the resemblance to Shalimar. I’m going to try decanting into a splash bottle to see if dabbing rather than spraying will make a difference. If not, I just hope hot weather will do the trick… March 22, 2021 at 3:56am Reply

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